injustice, I speak from experience, some good people make minor mistakes and pay for them for life others did nothing at all. Even in a system as well thought-out and intently fair as ours there are many cracks and many fall through, this might be a good chance for their lost voices to be heard.
It might be an idea to take them to see people who have been seriously affected by criminal activity, and get them involved in helping them rebuild their lives. Too much focus is put on helping offenders, whilst ignoring the offended. By getting them to confront the issues their criminal activities create, it might get them to change their ways. MIGHT!
The single most effective way for a former inmate to get on a more appropriate track and stay there for life is to have a personal, one-on-one sponsor. The sponsor must be a volunteer. Likely as not, the sponsor will have his own business because he sets the requirements about hiring himself. The sponsor must take a true interest in the ex-offender, not some creepy interest or an interest to use the person to do illegal stuff.
You could go a number of ways with this. Where should the ex-offender live and under what circumstances? Is law enforcement, like a probation officer, involved? Does the ex-offender become contractually obligated? Should this be something that is offered to citizens to help those coming out of prison in some sort of program or should it be a case by case thing? There are loads more questions that lead to the many complications involved.
Good luck. Sounds like a fun project.
Better mental help is usually the way to go with those folks. Be it in the form of mentoring, therapy, or managing a chronic mental issue they have with the correct drugs.